lunes, 28 de enero de 2013

Colombia detains ELN guerrillas, policeman missing

The army caught on 27 or 28 January four suspected members of the National Liberation Army (ELN) thought involved in the earlier kidnapping of five foreign contractors in the northern department of Bolívar; so far seven ELN fighters had been detained following the kidnapping. An army communiqué stated on 28 January that the four were detained in a rural part of the Santa Rosa district in Bolívar and belonged to the Darío Ramírez Castro Front, thought to have 2,500 members, the broadcaster Caracol reported. Weapons, documents and communication items were confiscated. The ELN warned authorities in a statement on 28 January that their search for the six hostages the ELN stated it held could endanger their lives, adding that the state would be responsible for the "lamentable outcome" the search could have, Agence France-Presse reported, citing the ELN's website Voces de Colombia. The ELN stated that it held six employees of a Canadian mining firm, while media had reported the number as five. Separately, the police chief of Bogotá said police were looking for a 21 or 24-year-old officer thought to have been kidnapped in a northern district of the capital, Caracol reported on 28 January. The officer apparently went missing late on 27 January in the Usaquén district where several gangs are thought to be active. General Luis Eduardo Martínez Guzmán urged local criminals to let the policeman go if they had him, particularly addressing a local gang called Los Pascuales. More than 300 policemen were said to have searched for the policeman in north-eastern sections of Bogotá on 28 January, Caracol television reported.

Mexico to change ambassadors in Cuba, Canada

Mexico was to recall two ambassadors sent to Cuba and Canada by the previous conservative government and replace them with appointees closer to the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and its foreign policy postures that included better ties with Cuba's communist regime. The Leftist former governor of the state of Michoacán Lázaro Cárdenas Batel was to become ambassador in Cuba, replacing Gabriel Jiménez Remus, while a veteran diplomatist and former deputy-foreign minister Julián Ventura Valero would replace Francisco Barrio as ambassador in Canada, La Jornada reported on 28 January. The daily observed that good ties with Cuba characterised the foreign policy of PRI governments and that these deteriorated in the presidencies of Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderón of the National Action Party. Cárdenas is a member of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) and son of its founder, the former Mexico City mayor Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas Solórzano; his grandfather was Lázaro Cárdenas del Río, President in 1934-40. In spite of initial protests against the 2012 general-election results and allegations of fraud against the PRI, the PRD has moved closer to the new government and signed the Pact for Mexico proposed by the PRI, designed to ease legislation. La Jornada cited unnamed foreign ministry sources as describing the appointment as a "gesture of friendship" to Cuba. Media carried pictures of a meeting in Santiago de Chile on 27 January between President Enrique Peña Nieto and Cuba's Raul Castro Ruz, on the sidelines of the summit of Latin American states and the EU. Unspecified sources cited by La Jornada stated that Mr Castro congratulated President Peña at the meeting on the PRI's return to power in 2012 and observed Cuba had had better relations with Mexico when the PRI governed; the PRI and Cuba's current regime coincided from the 1960s to 2000.

Forty killed in violence around Mexico

At least 40 were reported killed or found dead in violent incidents around Mexico on 24-28 January, including armed criminals, cartel operatives, policemen and eight folk singers who were apparently "tortured" then shot. Six victims were reported as gunned down in the central state of Hidalgo on 25-26 January in two killings police provisionally attributed to the cartel Caballeros TemplariosProceso reported. The review reported 11 killings in several states on 24-25 January, including of a policeman shot while eating by a food stall and a member of the Sinaloa drug cartel. The gangster was killed by municipal police during response to a car theft in Juárez in the northern state of Chihuahua; he was identified as number 11 in the cartel's hierarchy, Proceso reported on 25 January. The policeman was identified as police chief of the village of Tlajomulco de Zúñiga in the western state of Jalisco. Five at least were reported shot dead on 26 January in or near the districts of Ocampo and Ciudad Juárez in Chihuahua. One was a 19-year-old gunman killed by soldiers during an attempted highway robbery and another a policeman of Ciudad Juárez, Proceso reported. Seven suspected criminals were killed on 25 or 26 January as gunmen in cars traded fire on the road between Magdalena and Tequila in the western state of Jalisco, Proceso reported, citing Notimex. Troops shot dead three presumed gangsters early on 27 January, apparently responding to firing from a house in Fresnillo in the north-central state of Zacatecas; the patrol had arrived after authorities received calls there were armed men in the house. The bodies of eight members of the musical group Kombo Kolombia kidnapped days before were found on 28 January on an estate in the district of Mina in the northern state of Nuevo León; The group, whose members were numbered in reports at 16 or 20, was thought to have been kidnapped on the night of 24-25 January in the nearby district of Hidalgo as it prepared to play a concert, Milenio reported on 28 January.

Seventeen reported killed around Colombia

Four were reported shot dead on a road in the northern department of Antioquia on 27 January, while 10 people were reported killed in brawls or criminal incidents in Bogotá on 26-27 January. Police were investigating to find out if the four, found shot outside El Bagre in the district of Zaragoza, had been killed by criminals or guerrillas, RCN La Radio reported. Coroners in Bogotá separately reported 10 violent deaths in the capital on the night of 26-27 January, which apparently belied the city's declining trend in violent crime. Seven of these were killed by gunfire and three with knives or similar implements, RCN radio reported. The mayor of Bogotá Gustavo Petro said on 25 January that homicides decreased in January 2013 compared to January 2012 - from 16 to 12 per 100,000 inhabitants. Bogotá would become a "peaceful space" he said if the trend continues, Caracol radio reported. In the northern district of Sincelejo, three were shot dead at a family gathering on 26 or 27 January, when gunmen entered a house and began to "shoot indiscriminately," Caracol television reported. Police were separately reported to have detained dozens of suspected criminals in northern Colombia; the national police chief José Roberto León Riaño declared that 27 suspected drug traffickers were detained in Riohacha and Cartagena de Indias on the Caribbean coast, Caracol radio reported on 26 January. This followed the recent discovery in Cartagena of just under four tonnes of cocaine hidden in a container. León separately announced the arrests of 22 suspected extortionists in Cartagena; the suspects presented themselves to local businesses as members of major criminal gangs - presumably to frighten their victims - Caracol reported on 26 January.